Opinion Sports Columns

Edmonton Oilers Hit the Lottery…Literally

Billy Peterson

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Edmonton Oilers Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of Edmonton Oilers Facebook page.

Late last week, the Oilers became the happiest organization not in the postseason. That is because, in a draft that is said to be one of the deepest in NHL history, Edmonton will pick the top guy, the guy who is said to be the next Wayne Gretzky. In fact, he could lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup much like Gretzky did. His name: Connor McDavid. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

The Oilers are officially on the clock, though we all know who they will take. It is the fourth time in six years that Edmonton will pick first. That is bad. It is reflective of an organization that has struggled from the top on down.

This prompted many frustrated fans who were upset the ping pong balls didn’t go their way to say that the Oilers did not deserve another first pick. “Edmonton will ruin McDavid’s career,” many tweeted out. This is not only just said out of spite; it’s simply not true.

McDavid is a once-in-a-generation talent. Through 37 games of each player’s draft year in the QMJHL, McDavid had 36 goals and 62 assists, tallying an eye-popping 98 points. Sidney Crosby? 29 goals, 53 assists and 82 points. Safe to say McDavid is projected to fair even better than the current NHL’s top player. He will make the Oilers a better team.

Some could argue that with the division they play in, the Oilers could make a jump all the way to the postseason next year, but it is way too early for that. To say the Oilers will ruin him is just premature. You have a better argument saying that the Oilers did not deserve another first round pick, but even that doesn’t have merit.

It’s another year, and the Oilers were bad again. Just because they have been bad for many years now, and as a result, have had a lot of first overall picks, doesn’t mean they should automatically not get another one. The other struggling franchises that came close to McDavid were Buffalo and Arizona, but those two teams actually tanked.

If you’ve read my columns before, you know I do not like tanking. It is pointless, as Buffalo and Arizona just learned, and not how you should represent yourself. The Oilers, on the other hand, actually played really hard down the stretch. They only traded away one player at the trade deadline (Petry, and he wasn’t going to sign in Edmonton next year anyway), and they really gave teams fits down the stretch.

Example A would be practically knocking the defending champs, the LA Kings, out of the playoffs with a 3-1 win on one of the last nights of the regular season. The problem is, the Oilers were just not good.

If you’re a franchise not enjoying postseason hockey this year, it hurts not getting McDavid, but he will be great for the Oilers. Edmonton is a tremendous hockey city that has gone through a lot of hard times the last decade. Having the Oilers become a legitimate contender again will be good for the NHL.

There is no perfect formula when it comes to the draft lottery, but the Oilers are sure happy with how it’s shaken out. Now, with the help of McDavid, hopefully Edmonton can find themselves not hoping for ping pong balls next season.

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